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  • Today's Trouble-makers
    first worry and soon panic sets in as possible troubles over which we have little control take over our ability to respond to the actual situation we face The trouble with our troubles is that they gang up on us and then we surrender to them sure there is nothing we can do To the worried trouble makers among his followers Jesus offers some wisdom which is helpful even healing for us too He directs our attention to the beauty and reliability of nature God s creation Look at the birds Look at the flowers Do they seem troubled to you Take in their beauty and loveliness And calm down Really that s what I hear Jesus saying Take a moment Take a deep breath See yourself as a small part of God s whole creation and trust that God is paying attention to you For God knows there is trouble in nature too Jesus wasn t so naïve to ignore the fact that birds compete with each other for a place at the feeder He knew that lilies fade when their season is dry But there is truth in his invitation in the midst of our worries if we look beyond ourselves into a scene of peaceful beauty we can calm down For only once we have shut off the boiling pot of worry can we reclaim the still moment we need to think through our situation and recognize what steps we can take to sort out our troubles and address the situation that worries us the most A walk among the lilies of the field and the birds of the air is one good way to calm our worries and then take charge of them Think about the kind of situations which often provoke anxiety health concerns relationships interpersonal upset even the turmoil in the world When we find our anxiety spiralling whatever our concern there is often a small step we can take to check out the situation When we have a health concern we have to get it looked at and not rely on self diagnosis or family history Yes the health system is frustrating these days but better to make an appointment and wait than simply to wait and worry without that appointment If a relationship is out of kilter if we re upset with someone or hunch that someone s upset with us worry does nothing to improve things We have to reach out to each other invite someone into dialogue and clear things up Even if a relationship comes to an end better to end it with some understanding of why things fell apart than worry ourselves for weeks about what might be going wrong never address it Every situation has a few small steps we can take to settle the trouble down and address the actual situation not the imagined one When I m worried about my financial future for example I sit down and do a budget for a year or

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/89-todays-trouble-makers (2016-02-13)
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  • God's Wake Up Call
    choices and challenges These ancient prophets shone with God s promise of deliverance in the memories of God s people So then does this dream mean that Jesus will bring his followers the same promise Or does this dream mean that Jesus will add something to the tradition that his path and his teaching must now be heard leading to a different challenge A new promise From the story as Matthew tells it the meaning is not clear This dream is no easier to interpret than those that waken us in the early morning leaving us puzzled over their images Today I want to suggest that the meaning only becomes clear when we follow Jesus down the mountain In the scenes which follow this story the meaning of the wake up call becomes clear Reader As they were coming down the mountain Jesus ordered them Tell no one about the vision Then when they met up with the crowd a man came to Jesus knelt before him 15 and said Lord have mercy on my son for he is an epileptic and he suffers terribly he often falls into the fire and often into the water 16 And I brought him to your disciples but they could not cure him Such a hard moment We know its pain we pray for healing and it doesn t happen We wonder why Was it something we did Something we didn t do Jesus challenges his followers with these words Reader The disciples came to Jesus privately and said Why could we not cast that demon out He said to them Because of your little faith For truly I tell you if you have faith the size of a mustard seed you will say to this mountain Move from here to there and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you So does this mean miracles at our finger tips A seed of faith to replace our seed of doubt Again it s not quite clear for in the very next scene Jesus says that he will be betrayed and killed A life of faithfulness is not a guarantee of painless days and miraculous results But think about their dream from this perspective Moses faced challenges to his faithfulness in the wilderness Conflict hunger uncertainty the desire to turn back Moses had to lead through a lot of difficulty strengthened by his encounter with God on that mountain Elijah faced similar challenges Israel was tempted to follow easier paths the king disagreed with him vehemently Yes he had seen miracles but Elijah was also afraid and discouraged His encounter with God on the mountain sent him back into the thick of it Jesus followers were in the same predicament They faced opposition and their own discouragement So what is the word of hope in their dream How can they How can we be strengthened by the vision on the mountain I think the truth of the dream is found in Jesus

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/90-gods-wake-up-call (2016-02-13)
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  • Know-it-alls
    touch God was anticipating centuries of arguments over who is right and who is wrong who bears responsibility who is at fault In the playground of paradise we see our own temptations revealed When the holes in our knowledge are exposed whenever something in our scheme backfires we re found out we can t handle the responsibility of being wrong We have to put the blame on somebody else Perhaps that s why God proposed a limit to our knowledge in the first place God knew we couldn t handle the responsibility that comes with mistakes and misjudgement Know it alls hate having their weaknesses revealed In our generation a new tree sprouting the knowledge of good evil grows in our dens and offices It s called the internet These days it is so tempting to think that everything we need to know is just a click away The truth that will set us free is at our fingertips But did you hear what happened to CBC broadcaster Colleen Jones Last year she got busy diagnosing her own symptoms as she read health website after health website She started treating herself based on all that knowledge until she nearly died from bacterial meningitis If you ve seen her on CBC you ll know she is a perky know it all broadcaster or at least she was Now she appeals to people not to become their own diagnosticians on the crowded information highway of the internet As a professor I had to caution my students the same way You have to check every on line source with more reliable experts than yourself In Colleen Jones case she needed her physician to protect her from her know it all self In our second story Jesus meets another know it all It s the character of Satan who is mapping out Jesus career path for him dangling appealing options before his very eyes Like the story in Genesis this scene shows us our own temptations inviting us to limit our appetite for the forbidden fruits of power Satan offers three tempting proposals to Jesus after 40 weary days in the desert fasting Turn stones into bread Satisfy your own cravings Jesus feed the hungry with the snap of your fingers When Jesus defends himself with a verse of Scripture Satan becomes a theologian Then prove there is a God Throw yourself off the roof of the temple God will catch you It says so in the Bible Now Jesus has to resist the temptation to manipulate God turn his faith into certainty But he won t So Satan puts the world at Jesus feet if Jesus will just worship this know it all offer his loyalty to one who flaunts his control But Jesus will not do it Jesus accepts his limits and chooses to walk a harder way And there s the rub for us as we enter the season of Lent These ancient stories present us with limits we struggle with

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/93-know-it-alls (2016-02-13)
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  • New Eyes for Seeing
    to begin again are they At this point in the argument Jesus was amazed at Nicodemus Nicodemus knew the history of God s people Israel Like Jesus he was a rabbi And yet he didn t understand God has always allowed people to begin again Abraham and Sarah packed up at age 70 to start over in a distant promised land Moses herded his followers out of the slave pens of Egypt to make a new beginning From David defeating Goliath the Philistines to Nehemiah rebuilding the ruined city of Jerusalem God s people have been given many new chances Nicodemus should have known Living with God has always meant a fresh start for people caught up in their own sin or the sins of others A life of faith is a life of new beginnings as God s spirit opens our eyes to new possibilities To be sure many people want to read something different into that phrase You must be born again Something more dramatic Something very convincing in which God s spirit is manifest in us in a new way But let s not fool each other Making a new beginning in the midst of life doesn t have to be dramatic to demand courage commitment and a change of heart It is always difficult to make a new beginning because we carry within us old ways of looking at ourselves old expectations and perceptions We remember how our parents nagged us or ignored us how those kids on the playground teased us how that teacher criticized us or that so called friend talked about us behind our back Such things shape the way we look at our lives Such things can limit what we expect of ourselves So it will take an act of God s grace to free us from everything that has diminished us and everyone who has demeaned us It will take new eyes to see that every failure every mistake every short coming every thing that has kept us lying awake at night has not turned God away from us To be born again is to live with a new reputation created by someone who loves us To be born from above is to see that in Christ we are set free from all our faults and failings and given a push by God s Spirit to move in new directions Still poor old Nicodemus doesn t quite believe it He asks Jesus How can these things be He cannot quite imagine what this new birth this new life will look like And perhaps he s wise to be uncertain For making a new beginning is no easier than growing up the first time when everything from walking and talking to riding a bike and making new friends took a lot of practice New life new birth in Christ takes just as much practice maybe even more In order to give up old ways of thinking and acting and feeling so that

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/94-new-eyes-for-seeing (2016-02-13)
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  • What's for dinner tonight, mum?
    some lunch and a bit of a break He asked his friends to get things organized but those guys had no clue They were panicking The guy named Philip was the worst mimicking an adult male voice Six months wages wouldn t buy enough bread for everyone here to get a little That was his idea Send somebody back to town to pick up sandwiches For a thousand or two Yeah right The rabbi just shook his head Now I had my lunch with me five barley buns and two sardines Mum won t let me go for a day without taking lunch along So I took it out of my sack and showed it to a guy named Andrew I thought if I shared mine others might join in After all no mother takes her kids for a day in the mountains without taking along some lunch So the rabbi got us organized sat us down started passing my lunch around Sure enough bread and fish came out of nowhere There might have been some cheese and olives too and a few oranges Everybody got something to eat for sure But then a really strange thing happened The rabbi said Gather up the leftovers You should have seen the look on Philip s face He thought the rabbi was crazy But they passed around some baskets and the baskets came back full Then that rabbi I think his name is Jesus he gave me a bunch of leftovers to take home I know when I ask mum what s for dinner she s going to give me a hard time Mimicking again I gave you the last two fish in the pantry you wasteful boy And then I m going to bring out my basket of leftovers It will be a feast Sardines for sure but some cheese and olives too Amazing what happens when people share their lunch Calling Hey mum What s for dinner tonight A short dialogue on Hungry Families with a narrator a Mom and a researcher Narrator Imagine if you were a mother who couldn t afford to buy enough food for your children Mom It makes me feel like less of a mom not to have food Every day I walk into a brick wall No bricks fall there s no dust no crumbling Just the wall It never moves Narrator Sometimes this mother doesn t set a fork for herself at the table so that her children can eat Mom Sometimes my little guy wakes up first and wants his cereal If he asks for more I panic What will I do when my older son wakes up Researcher The consequences of having a poor and hungry beginning like this put children at risk Did you know that if a child younger than three lacks proper nutrition even for just a week here or there it has an immediate effect on that child s brain The child s language skills are delayed

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/95-whats-for-dinner-tonight-mum (2016-02-13)
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  • What we need to know
    She doesn t like to talk about this She doesn t exactly lie b ut she doesn t tell the whole truth either Jesus somehow sees into her discomfort and tells her what she doesn t want to know You ve had five husbands all long gone The man in your life now you can t marry him What you have said is true Jesus confirms the beginning of her truth telling but he also confronts her with the harder truth the truth from which she wrongly turns the truth she must face in order to taste God s living water The woman at the well has been avoiding her uncomfortable truth But in her discomfort she does what we all do She changes the subject She tries to win a different argument She confronts Jesus Who s right Jews or Samaritans She wraps herself in her sense of religious truth But Jesus will not be diverted He cuts to the heart of things the things she needs to hear Those who worship God must worship in spirit and in truth In this story truth is something that cannot be hidden God opens up the truth before our very eyes So we must look and see what we need to know Yet the woman still can t recognize the truth standing before her I know the Messiah is coming she says I ll wait for God s anointed thank you very much She is expecting the Messiah but on her own terms He will proclaim all things to us Yet the truth will out Jesus says I am the Messiah the very one who is speaking to you the one who will not turn away from painful truth the one who has told you what you need to know The woman at the well needed to know that she couldn t hide from the painful truth of her life She needed to know that her uncomfortable truth wouldn t keep God from offering her the gift of living water to refresh her soul She needed to name what she wanted to hide Once she did the gift of God was revealed to her face to face I wonder how often we put ourselves in the same position If there is some awkward truth in our lives some embarrassing or painful secret we d rather not talk about we often hope by not talking about it that uncomfortable awkward truth will just disappear Yet if we avoid recognizing awkward truth it ends up having hidden power over us It ends up diverting us from the truth by which we rightly live the truth of God s mercy God knows we need to see the uncomfortable painful truth of our lives face it name it and understand how God will work with us in the midst of it For when we acknowledge awkward difficult truth we find freedom just as the woman at the well discovered Is there a hidden secret in

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/97-what-we-need-to-know (2016-02-13)
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  • Confronting Hope
    even though they die will live And everyone who lives and believes in me will never die These words beat at the heart of Christian hope In the face of death and all the anger and agony which accompany our losses Jesus stands as the promise of life the promise that we belong to God in death and in life He asks us Do you believe this It s a question we all have to answer for ourselves Let us ponder it as we sing our refrain When we are living it is in Christ Jesus Jesus the resurrection and the life comes face to face with death in this next scene And he grows angry on our behalf Reader Now Jesus had not yet come to the village but was still at the place where Martha had met him 31 The Jews who were with Mary in the house consoling her saw Mary get up quickly and go out They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him she knelt at his feet and said to him Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died 33 When Jesus saw her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved 34 He said Where have you laid him They said to him Lord come and see 35 Jesus began to weep 36 So the Jews said See how he loved him 37 But some of them said Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying This scene is remarkable unique in all the Gospels because of the words used to describe Jesus emotion They are rare words powerful words angry words When Jesus sees the tears pouring down Mary s face he grows angry Yet our English translations usually disguise the edge of anger in Jesus It seems we can t quite imagine an angry Jesus We like a mild mannered polite Saviour not someone who gets passionately upset at the forces at work against us But Jesus grows angry when he witnesses the power of death s grasp on his beloved friends He is angry on our behalf He is angry at death And he is overcome by the deep sense of loss he shares with his two heart broken friends Even Jesus begins to weep openly And so I often choose to read this story in situations of grief and loss where anger is at work among the broken hearted I want to say to the broken hearted that Jesus understands He grows angry too But he s not angry with Mary and Martha He grows angry at death and the power it wields over us its power to set us at odds with each other just at the moment we need each other the most That s

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive/99-confronting-hope (2016-02-13)
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  • 2011 Sermon Archive
    Display 5 10 15 20 25 30 50 100 All 16 On our Knees April 17 2011 Nancy Cocks 17 Easter s Earthquake April 24 2011 Nancy Cocks 18 Resurrected to Forgive May 2 2011 Linda Lawson 19 Making Space for God May 15 2011 Nancy Cocks 20 Believing to the end May 22 2011 Nancy Cocks 21 When God moves in May 29 2011 Nancy Cocks 22 What kind

    Original URL path: http://stjohnsmedicinehat.ca/worship-and-the-arts/sermons/2011archive?start=15 (2016-02-13)
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